Thursday, 23 June 2011

Failure to connect

If you’d thought connecting to the telephone was a simple exercise and considered a basic necessity of modern housing, you’d be most emphatically wrong.

Marmalade Cottage has never been connected to the phone, not even in the days of the Post Master General’s department.

In practical terms, the connection is a matter of digging a trench, running cable from the pit in the footpath to where you want the socket installed inside the house.

In reality it’s insanely complicated and, depending on who you ask, and on which day, quite often conflicting.

The whole telephone-connection system is set up for new houses, so working with a 94-year-old house causes throwing of hands in air, and, one suspects, muttering under breath.

The phone has to be connected to the electrical meter box.  Or it doesn’t. 

The cabling has to go in a trench directly to the meter box.  Or it doesn’t.

The trench has to be 350mm deep.  Or 300mm deep.  It has to be 250mm wide.  Or 150mm wide.  Or the width of a spoon.

The trench can cost $341 or $428 to dig.  Or you can dig it yourself.  Provided it’s deep enough and wide enough.  And in the right place.

The reinventors are digging their heels in and demanding a definitive explanation of what’s required and where, and a quote in writing.  The provisioning company is finding this difficult to understand. 

Apparently the Marmalade Cottage situation is unusual to the degree of about one-in-10,000.  Everyone gets the phone connected when they build the house, don’t they?!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Getting there

Here's what you can achieve in a week off work:
  • Restring the Hills hoist.  The former owner had strung it sometime back in the 1960s with electrical wiring, which is quite strong, as it's copper.  Unfortunately it's coated in black rubber, which, as it perishes in the sun, leaves nasty black marks on one's washing.  It required big snipper-pliers, a hacksaw and calculated swearing to take it off.
  • Seal the kitchen floor.  More hands-and-knees work.  The floor looks appropriately rustic and should stand up to whatever we (literally) throw at it.
  • Paint the entrance hall.  The practical one thoroughly detests painting, but can't deny that it makes a very big difference.  Most of the 1940s vintage cream paint (not) enhanced by 50 years of cigarette smoke is now a lovely, snowy white.  Once the skirtings, architraves, window frames and our intricate arch is picked out in foresight blue (that's its real name) it will look quite spectacular.
  • Two trips to Ikea.  Much as we'd sworn to foreswear the warehouse of frustration and broken fingernails, it turned out to have exactly the sort of stainless steel shelving and racks we needed.  The second trip secured the perfect stainless steel island bench.  Once the kitchen is painted, we can put up all the shelving and racks and the kitchen will work really well.
  • Discover the kitchen mantlepiece is a lovely piece of jarrah.  Underneath cream, white, pale green, darkgreen and yellow paint.  It's nearly stripped clean, and, once sanded and varnished will be gorgeous.
  • Move the rainwater tank.  Which had been carefully placed to render the Hills hoist largely useless.  This involved emptying it (about a third full) onto the back yard, then rolling it to the concrete pad that was and will be the chook shed.  Eventually we'll plumb it to the roof of the new shed for which we haven't yet budgeted.
There's more, but it makes my head ache thinking about it.

This weekend we'll fill as many of the holes left by the electricians as we can, then get a lot of painting done, put up blinds in the kitchen and bedroom, shelves and racking in the kitchen.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Baby, it's cold outside

So this is what happens if you're really lucky.

You have the gas connected to your old house for the first time in its 94-year history.  That's the digging up of the footpath to get the gas pipe from the street to your house.  Then you have a heap of copper piping strapped to the side of your house, connecting the meter box to your stove and hot water service.

Then the gasfitter submits some vitally important paperwork to the gas regulator.  Who decides your job needs to be audited and promptly switches the gas supply off.

You, of course don't notice this until 7.30pm on the Saturday of a long weekend.

Several increasingly miffed phone calls ensue to the gas regulator, the gas inspection people and the gas fitter.  Nothing happens.  You manage to cobble together dinner, and you go to bed grubby from a day's scrubbing and moving.

The next day, a gas inspector turns up apropos of nothing.  He looks vaguely at your gas meter box, then announces he can do nothing as he doesn't have the paperwork.  You ask why he's here.  That conversation goes nowhere.

Fortunately, your gasfitter is a compassionate fellow and resends the paperwork to the gas regulator.  Then the gas inspector reappears and approves your gasfitter's work.  But he doesn't turn the gas on.  That's not his job.  That's the gasfitter's job.  The gasfitter can't come, he has small children to supervise and no car that day...

The practical one is furious and has several strongly worded letters half-composed.  Grrrr...